- Projections show 18 million Americans will wager $3.9b on March Madness.
- Eleven states have legalized sports betting as three of them are expected to launch soon.
- 80% of Americans are in favor of legal sports betting.
It was expected that coming into 2019, we would see a few states legalize sports betting while a few other just began some discussion. Eight states have a regulated industry in place and are consistently receiving tax contributions from their commercial and tribal casinos, racinos, and lottery.
Taking notes of the success, three-fourths of the country have filed some sort of legislation to permit, study, or expand their sports betting industry.
Now, we only have 16 states who have put forth no legislative effort this year but only nine of them are looking to be left behind. Four of them already have legal sports betting while three of them just started their legislative sessions.
However, as some states are nearing the completion or are now in the heart of their session, we are beginning to see a clearer picture.
Let’s Start With The Most Likely
Rhode Island is on their way to becoming the 6th state to have legalized sports betting through an online platform, as SB 37 has made its way to the Governor’s desk. A supporter of the bill, Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to sign it into law.
SB37 would call for the Rhode Island lottery to administer the platform. Supplied by IGT and William Hill through exclusive contracts, Rhode Island players would be able to sign up at any lottery retailer.
Virginia is also expected to have a bill signed into law – or at least have the Governor sit on it long enough for his signature to not matter by the end of the month. Their expansion of gambling in the state is all-encompassing from casinos all the way to sports betting. The measure is so vast that it requires having a committee study the effects, a countywide voter referendum to establish potential locations, and additional approval from the next year’s legislatures.
SB1126 is the bill on Governor Northam’s desk. Even with its probable passage, the timeframe is a lengthy one for legal Virginia sports betting. A gaming license will not be allowed to be issued until July 2020; however, they are making huge strides in the startup up the casino-gaming industry.
In the big apple, New York has adjusted its state budget to reflect online sports wagering. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been in a long battle with legislators over the budget but it is looking more likely that New Yorkers won’t have to continue jumping over to New Jersey to place a mobile bet.
The state had approved a 2013 measure to allow for sports wagering in the four upstate casinos through a voter referendum. There was no discussion of an online betting platform and Cuomo believes a constitutional change may have to occur first. If New York Attorney General Letitia James rules a favorable opinion of the online industry, New York may soon be implementing their agreed upon regulations.
Moving To The Midwest
After the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regions introduced and spread the thoughts of a regulated sports betting industry, the Midwest has been paying attention. With the exceptions of Nebraska and Wisconsin, every state in this region has filed at least one sports betting bill.
Ohio, just this week, modified their placeholder bill into an actual 146-page measure to be progressed along, hopefully, this year. Proposed by Senator John Eklund (R-Chardon), SB111 would amend the Ohio Revised Code to permit regulated sports wagering in the state.
With no restrictions, both professional and collegiate sports wagering would be allowed. Licenses, which initially cost $100,000, would be granted to the near dozen casinos and racinos. Wagering would also be able to take place through an online platform.
Michigan has been making recent strides as of late in regards to HB 4311. In the Regulatory Reform Committee, the bill is replicated off of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act created in last year’s legislature.
The main difference? A change in Governors.
Last year’s bill was approved in both chambers before being vetoed by now former Governor, Rick Snyder. With Governor Gretchen Whitmer as the new head of the executive branch, we are likely to see Michigan make rapid advancements in a short period.
Other States That Are Taking Action Or Have Pushed
With 9 states approaching their early-April (or March) session end dates, it is becoming time to see where each state prioritizes sports betting.
Kentucky, South Dakota, and Maryland are set to exit this year’s session without any real movement forward. Pending any special session being called or a measure being sped through the chambers, they will join states who never filed legislation (Alaska, Georgia, and Idaho) and end their session behind the curve.
States like Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, Indiana, and North Dakota still have time to sign a potential bill into law; however, their end-of-April session ends are advancing just as quickly.
Tennessee has seen multiple bills move through the chambers as HB1 is scheduled to be in House State Government Committee on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Senate Government Operations Committee will review SB16.
Action is happening all over the country and legal sports betting is the hot topic at the table. After successful Super Bowl sports wagering handle numbers and one just as large expected for March Madness, more states will likely move more and more in favor of collecting additional tax contributions.
Michael began writing as an NBA content writer and has spent time scouting college basketball for Florida State University under Leonard Hamilton and the University of Alabama under Anthony Grant. A graduate of both schools, he covers topics focused on legal sports betting, betting odds, and casino reviews. Michael likes to golf, play basketball, hike, and kayak when not glued to the TV watching NBA games.